Zero Waste Shopping at Oliver’s Made Easy!

Oliver’s Market is way more than just a grocery store. As a Social Purpose Corporation and employee-owned Green Business, we strive to positively contribute to our community and the environment.

We want to ensure that our customers can join in our quest for waste reduction every time they shop at Oliver’s by offering Zero Waste Shopping options.

This blog provides a snapshot and game plan for choosing shopping options that improve our collective  impact on the planet and our community by reducing waste, and often saving money, too!

Before you leave home:

New habits take a little planning and a bit of practice. Make a check list of things you need to bring with you. This list could include:

  1. Reusable shopping bags
  2. Reusable produce bags
  3. Clean, non-porous, reusable containers for shopping in the Bulk Department, Grocery Department (bulk coffee), Meat Department, BBQ, Deli, or Bakery.
  4. Reusable water jug for filtered water station refills.
  5. Reusable mug or cup for buying coffee, tea, or a smoothie.
  6. Reusable straw, utensils, and/or napkins for enjoying prepared foods.
  7. We also sell reusable containers, straws, utensils, mugs, produce bags, and carryout bags in case you forget or would like to add to your collection.

Transportation: Your zero-waste shopping trip to Oliver’s, might include biking to Oliver’s. Each store is equipped with bicycle parking for anyone to use.

Shopping List: focus on buying what you need by using your phone or recycled paper to make a shopping list.

When you get to Oliver’s Market:

Each section below will highlight an area of our stores where you can engage in zero-waste shopping, why it’s important, and how to shop in a way that keeps us all safe.

Bulk Department:

Most packaging will end up in the landfill and is often made of virgin (non-recycled) materials. That’s why simply shopping in the bulk section is the easiest most effective way to reduce packaging. And it’s a great way to explore and try new options without breaking the bank or wasting a whole package of something if you end up not liking it.

To further your package reduction efforts, you can even bring in any clean, non-porous reusable container from home. Remember to get it weighed in the front end to obtain a tare weight, then shop using your container in the bulk section recording the bin #, and when you check out, the cashier will deduce the weight of your container from the final cost.

Remember that if you use a lot of a particular item, you can contact us online to make a special order for a large quantity. You will not only bypass all packaging other than what it comes in, but you will save 10%.

Filtered Water Station:

Ditch the single use water bottles and jugs. Make a small investment in a reusable water jug and fill it up at the water station inside our stores. It is also much more affordable since the cost doesn’t include packaging!

Produce Department:

Plastic and bio-plastic bags all end up in the Sonoma County landfill. In our Produce Departments, we offer paper bags that are compostable and made using recycled content.

For damp produce, you can bring in reusable produce bags or purchase some and then use. Not using produce bags at all is an option as well.

Additionally, instead of purchasing packaged greens or mushrooms, consider choosing the large variety of loose options or choosing products that use packaging that is made from recycled materials and/or able to be composted or recycled when done.

Grocery Department:

From choosing products that use recycled, recyclable, compostable, and/or reusable packaging to getting bulk coffee with a clean, non-porous, reusable container, there are so many ways to reduce and even eliminate waste in our vast collection of products available.

Dairy Department:

Most dairy products use recyclable or compostable packaging, which is wonderful. There are even some brands where customers just pay an additional deposit (usually around $2) and then return their clean empty container to get their deposit back.

Meat Department:

Here’s an insider secret – did you know that you can bring in your own clean, non-porous reusable container to have the meat department fill with your favorite meat cut? Additionally, you can do the same for the BBQ outside!

Deli Department:

Did you know at Oliver’s we have changed out all our packaging to be as green as possible? Anything we provide in the way of packaging (other than the soup containers which unfortunately have to go in the landfill) is reusable, recyclable, and/or compostable. But to further your efforts, you are allowed to bring in a clean, non-porous reusable container to our Deli and ask our staff to fill it with cold case products, Taqueria or even have your sandwich put in a container (big enough to fit it).

It is important to know that reusable containers are NEVER allowed to be used on the hot bar/salad bar/soup bar for your safety due to the health code prohibiting it.

Bakery Department:

In the bakery, you can bring in a clean, non-porous container to ask employees to fill with your favorite cupcake or treat. And of course, at Oliver’s we strongly encourage customers to bring their own mug/cup for hot and cold drinks and you will save .50 cents by doing so!

Cheese Department:

Even the cheese department accepts your clean, non-porous, reusable container to fill with your favorite cheese!

Wine Department:

Why not stock up on your favorite wine or beer? Use our convenient reusable cloth wine bags and/or reusable cardboard beer carriers and even get a discount!

When you are ready to check out:

Avoid that required 10-cent charge per bag you can bring your own reusable bag and use it to bag your groceries. Or you can even skip the bag altogether if you are just getting a few items.

Your Small Steps Matter…

Zero Waste is a catch phrase, but it takes more time and energy to achieve than many people feel they have with the other constraints and pressures of busy lives. Like so many things, though, creating new habits by making small changes add up, and it’s important to remember that any waste you reduce or habit you change makes a difference.

Pick a new goal or two and don’t feel that everything must happen at once.

Together, we can all work toward less waste, more savings, and help preserve our quality of life here in Sonoma County.

You can learn more about our quest for sustainability and zero waste at Oliver’s on our Sustainability Page.

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